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"Get them long before they get you."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT MONSTER FEST 2016: Given its title, I wonder if the script for "Prevenge" at one point had a more explicitly sci-fi angle at one point, playing out as something much more in line with "The Terminator" rather than taking a darker route where, if its murderous mother-to-be earns the audience’s forgiveness, it’s a much more troublesome decision. I’d kind of like to see that movie sometime, but Alice Lowe seems ideally suited for this take, and she sure as heck makes it interesting." (more)
"“What Ray Kroc Was Made Of…”"
3 stars
alejandroariera says... "Directed by John Lee Hancock and written by Robert D. Siegel (“The Wrestler”, “Big Fan”), “The Founder” suffers from a severe case of eating its cake and having it, too…or in this case, eating a Big Mac and having it, too. In trying to present a warts-and-all portrait of Ray Kroc, the traveling salesman who stumbled into somebody else’s revolutionary idea and turned it into one of the world’s largest food empires, Hancock and Siegel fall into a trap of their own making. Instead of an exploration of how capitalism preys upon, exploits and even corrupts innovation, they have, with the complicit assistance of composer Carter Burwell, delivered an almost triumphant and celebratory portrait of ruthlessness. Yes, Kroc may be portrayed in the second half of the film as a heartless bastard but he is their heartless bastard." (more)
"Kids who definitely need some supervision."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT MONSTER FEST 2016: There’s a certain bravery to the way films like "Playground" transgress, although it’s a courage that is perhaps not all it’s cracked up to be: The filmmakers are obliquely saying incendiary things to an audience that is inclined to search for such meaning and likely to agree with that which is being said, after congratulating themselves on enduring something that folks going to the cinema for mere entertainment wouldn’t. It impresses, it reveals a bit more under scrutiny, and yet, I honestly don’t know whether I’d recommend someone see it rather than just tell them about it." (more)
"Long live the new 'Flesh.'"
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Every so often you need a movie that’s so defiantly uningratiating (and often unpleasant) it seems to clear the air, like an especially intense thunderstorm, and demonstrate that art doesn’t always play nice." (more)
"Not as great as its ambition, but still impressive in spots."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "I don’t think we’ve quite reached a point where what a filmmaker can do with the technology at his or her disposal is so simultaneously incredible and accessible that it can be taken for granted, but it’s certainly easier to become jaded. The first half-hour or so of "A Monster Calls", for instance, offers constant delight in not just the obvious fantasy elements director J.A. Bayona and his crew put on the screen, but just how carefully and beautifully everything else in the film is constructed; by the end, one will quite likely find oneself taking that for granted. As good, sincere, and capable as their efforts are, one can still get detached and wonder if it’s enough." (more)
"Has the right ideas but not enough going on."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT MONSTER FEST 2016: Movies like "Beyond the Gates" are what happens when the enthusiasm many fans have for horror movies run hard into how difficult making an actual quality picture can be. Filmmaker Jackson Stewart has a better idea of where to start than most people building high-concept, low-budget gorefests do, but the sheer number of details that require money, some particular type of talent, and time overwhelms him and his crew to the point where a good start becomes a disappointing finish." (more)
"A.K.A. The Snoring Twenties"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Although it still seems like an odd thing to note, it must be said that over the course of his first three films behind the camera, Ben Affleck has established himself as a surprisingly strong and gifted director. Granted, those films—“Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town” and “Argo”—have not necessarily reinvented the cinematic wheel for the most part, he has proven himself to be a filmmaker in the manner of the late Sydney Pollack—someone with the ability to put together intelligent, adult-oriented projects like “Three Days of the Condor” and “Tootsie” that featured smart storytelling instincts and a genuine facility for working with actors. Unfortunately, with his latest effort, an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s period gangster drama “Live By Night,” he seems to be emulating the Pollack who coughed up such high-toned dogs as “Bobby Deerfield,” “Havana” and “Random Hearts” that brought together a number of hugely talented people on both sides of the camera in the service of substandard screenplays that not even their talents could elevate. On paper, it seems to have everything going for it but the end result is such a dead bulb of a movie that it feels like the work of a first-time director with no particular aptitude for the job rather than the latest from a guy whose previous effort won the Oscar for Best Picture." (more)
"As close as we're going to get now to meeting her."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "One of the better jokes in "Wishful Drinking," HBO’s filmed version of Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show, will inspire sad cringing more than laughter these days." (more)
"Picture perfect."
5 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "There’s no clearcut, conventional narrative in Kirsten Johnson’s frequently moving "Cameraperson."" (more)
MASTER (2016)
"A bit too much of a long con, but otherwise great."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Korean thriller "Master" feels like it should have an Indian-style intermission in the middle as it shuffles characters up, changes locations, and basically feels like filmmaker Jo Ui-seok has made both a tight, entertaining thriller and its decent sequel, then stitched them together to make something that works as one movie but feels a little stretched out. Ten minutes to stretch your legs and get ready for something new would have helped, although it still makes fine use of a great cast regardless." (more)

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